The Consultancy

Sarah Sutton, Cultural Sector Lead, We Are Still In

Sustainable Museums creates relationships and leads collaborations that blend the cultural sector and broader climate action. The cultural sector has so much to offer and gain as it connects its work with the global efforts on environmental and human health, on climate mitigation and adaptation, and on community resilience. Cultural institutions are key partners for cities, counties, states, tribes, and civic organizations when planning sustainable and resilient futures that emphasize climate, equity, economics and health. Museums, zoos, gardens, aquariums and cultural buildings and landscapes must be included in work on community infrastructure planning and implementation, and on public engagement and education if there are to be truly lasting, sustainable results.

The consultancy creates projects and partnerships among leaders and innovators, providing intellectual and strategic support as cultural institutions plan to create change and thrive in the process. Increasingly that means cross-sector research and practice to advance the cultural professions and climate action. To accelerate this engagement, since 2017, Sustainable Museums, through Sarah Sutton, has led the cultural sector for We Are Still In, the largest coalition of non-state supporters of the Paris Agreement anywhere in the World.

Sarah Sutton, 2019, Courtesy Salzburg Global Fellows

In addition to collaborative projects for cultural institutions with other sectors, Sutton works with the leadership of individual institutions as they prepare and launch mission-specific climate initiatives, or plan more strategic engagement with initiatives around environmental sustainability and climate resilience. This work draws on current research and practice in resource conservation, public engagement, and climate resilience and adaptation to support an organization’s best possible decisions. In partnership with nonprofits applications, Sustainable Museums co-designs and the prepares the applications to fund many of these projects.

Here’s what others have said:

“During Sarah’s work with a Strawbery Banke Museum staff team exploring how to introduce environmental sustainability as an institution-wide theme, we heard repeatedly in the weeks following how the staff came to see each other and the site in new, exciting ways, and how they enjoyed the way Sarah designed the team work and how she worked with them. They universally loved what she did and how she did it.”

     -Larry Yerdon, President, Strawbery Banke Museums

“Sarah is a great support to our team over the years as Detroit Zoological Society takes on important strategic green changes. She has helped us deepen and broaden our culture of sustainability, supported us with important examples from the field, and always been a cheerful influence.”

     -Gerry VanAcker, Chief Operations Officer, Detroit Zoological Society

NOTE: The Detroit Zoological Society, won the 2020 Sustainability Award from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the only zoo to win both the US and World top awards.

Dumbarton House embarked on an effort to increase its sustainability back in 2010, both in an effort to conserve environmental resources and to positively impact our bottom line. Throughout the process, Sarah served as both an inspiring model and a supportive “coach” for our staff. She reviewed drafts of our Sustainability Action Plan, provided helpful resources, and helped us plan for sustainability in our grant application process in order to gain some financial support to advance our goals.

Meanwhile, through our efforts and our work with Sarah in this area Dumbarton House achieved significant recognition for our work—appearing in various articles and books in professional publications and receiving the 2013 Mayor’s Sustainability Award here in Washington, DC—the only museum or historic site to ever be recognized in this way. Through our work with Sarah, we have learned that “being green” is possible even for small museums and historic sites, and even with a small budget.”

     -Karen Daly, Executive Director, Dumbarton House, Headquarters for the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America